Poetry by Luljeta Lleshanaku
Translated by Ani Gjika
“Language arrived fragmentary / split in syllables / spasmodic / like code in times of war,” writes Luljeta Lleshanaku in the title poem to her powerful new collection Negative Space. In these lines, personal biography disperses into the history of an entire generation that grew up under the oppressive dictator- ship of the poet’s native Albania. For Lleshanaku, the “unsaid, gestures” make up the negative space that “gives form to the woods / and to the mad woman— the silhouette of goddess Athena / wearing a pair of flip-flops / and an owl atop her shoulder.” It is the negative space “that sketched my onomatopoeic profile / of body and shadow in an accidental encounter.” Lleshanaku instills ordinary objects and places—gloves, used books, acupuncture needles, small-town train stations—with subtle humor and profound insight, much as a child might discover a world in a grain of sand.